a guide to disappeared streets in Stratford
A resident who lived in Western Street, Stratford from 1951-1964.
He and his family moved out into a council flats due to the demolition and regeneration of Stratford area in the 1960s.
and Archive Images from
LONDON BOROUGH OF NEWHAM
“Angel Lane ran approximately north-south from Stratford Broadway...
The Lane was the location for a regular street market.
It was probably also known by many as the way leading to the Theatre Royal.
Along with Western Street and it surroundings,
Angel Lane was demolished around 1970.”
Western Street and William Street
used to run down from Angel Lane to Stratford Station.
The main passenger entrance to the Station during the 1950s/60’s was where William Street and Martin Street met.
This was accessible via steps from the corner down into a booking hall.
From there, tunnels lead to the platforms.
When I was 5-11 years old I went to a nearby primary school. This was at the corner of Salway Road and Great Eastern Road.
I recall one teacher giving each of us a small toy at Christmas one year. I got a ’Matchbox’ toy motorcycle and sidecar combination in RAC livery with a rider. She had also during one summer been on a – then amazing! – trip to Italy and brought back a novelty. This was a long strip of boiled sweets. Each sweet was in its own individual package, all attached in a long ribbon. She said they could be bought like this from vending machines and she gave each of us a few of the sweets. At Christmas time one year we were also shown some old silent films – comedies and cartoons – as a treat.
“Salway Primary School”, 2020
Theatre Royal, 2020
When going to and from school I used to walk past the Theatre Royal and I recall seeing the posters for their productions which are now a famous and important part of the history of British theatre.
Alas, being young I had no idea at the time about this, and my parents never took me to any of the shows like “Oh what a lovely war” or “Fings ain’t wot they used to be”.
During WWII the area of Cullum Street and Broad Street was bombed out, as were some of the houses in Western Street. The kids in the area used to sometimes call the flattened area that once was Cullum/Broad Street “The Debry” – which I only later realised was “the debris” with the local accent applied! We used to use it as a play area. Although all the houses were gone, the square of road remained, and was useful at times as cycle racing track and sports ground.
After the war, the residents cleaned up the Debry because the council had said they’d make it into a playground and communal area. However, as with so many promises by politicians, this idea seemed to evaporate once the people had done the work and elections were over! So during the early 1960s the open area became a car park, mainly for those using Stratford Station. This meant that some of the area was covered in tar and cinders. This proved to be an excellent ‘speedway’ for some of us on bicycles. Some kids made some money washing and polishing cars.
In contrast one of my earliest and vaguest memories has for years been that there was a fair or circus that came to the Debry.
I can recall there being a roundabout. (‘gallopers’?) and, of all things, an archery range.
Also, an elephant which had some seating on its back and you could pay to ride.
Over the years no-one else I’ve spoken to seems to recall this so I have wondered if I imagined it,
or am thinking of a fair elsewhere.
The Beatles did visit and use the Debry and Angel Lane to make a promotional music video and have publicity photos taken for their song, Penny Lane.
However this happened after we moved away to a council flat, so I missed that excitement!
The terraced houses were in a poor state.
During the cold winter of the early 1960s, I can recall waking up and finding an inch of snow on the inside of the closed window where it had blown in through the gaps in the frame. There were brown marks on the ceiling of my bedroom where leaks in the roof allowed water to drop though and soak into the plasterboards.
We could normally only afford a coal fire in the living room, so the rest of the house was cold and damp. The coal was stored under the stairs. The loo was in the back yard. This only got electric light when my Dad drilled a hole in the wall between scullery and loo. He then poked an extension flex though and used a two-way adaptor from the scullery light socket.
There may have been a house less than a mile away with central heating and on-tap hot water. But if so, such inventions would have been news to me! So at the time we were pleased to be given a council flat as a replacement and move out.
However nowadays I regret that the community I’d grown up in was dispersed and I lost contact with my friends and neighbours.
Stratford High Street, 2020
St. John's Church, 2020
Town Hall, 2020
Cohen’s fish and chip shop was at the corner of Western Street and Angel Lane.
The chip shop was used for some scenes in the Joe Brown film, “What A Crazy World”.
To get even more obscure during the second World War my step-brother, Alan, fell though the roof of Cohen’s because he’d been climbing over it as a kid. The result was a row between Cohen and our father that lasted for decades!
As a kid, the one I knew best was ‘Nichols’ sweet-shop! As well as sweets this was where I bought many comics. ‘Shingler’ was a second-hand shop on the corner of William Street. This used to have things like used furniture inside.
But so far as I recall I never actually went inside Shingler’s. My main interest was that it used to have a stall outside with paperbacks on sale for 6d each. That’s where I bought many of my first books.
Railway Tavern, 2020
We had a cat which used to go out on the Debry along with another cat which the Irvings owned.
I noticed one day that next door’s cat was hiding behind some grass on the Debry while our cat was beyond a flock of birds that were pecking around on the ground.
Our cat was slowly moving towards them as if stalking, but was in full view of the birds. So as our cat advanced, the birds kept wandering away from it... towards next door’s cat, which they couldn’t see.
I got the distinct impression that the two cats were working together, with ours deliberately driving them towards the other.
But the birds flew away before they got close enough for the hidden cat to spring any trap.
We’d had the cat since it had been a kitten and I think then in modern terms it had ‘imprinted’ on my mother as also being its mother!
When she went shopping on Stratford Broadway she’d go via our back gate and walk across the Debry to get there via the far corner leading into Martin Street.
Our cat used to follow her.
But she would stop and tell it not to, when she got to the corner.
So it would then sit and wait there until she came back. Then walk home with her! If she was a long time it might come back and sit on our back fence, waiting.
Then when she came back round the far corner it would hop down, run to her,
and accompany her home.